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Firework Eye Safety Alert

Every year 10 people in the UK lose their sight and 300 people suffer serious eye injuries as a result of accidents caused by fireworks. And, its not just children larking about that are at risk – three quarters (73%) of serious ocular traumas are sustained by adults and most (45 per cent) occur at private parties (1,2).

Rockets take first place in the danger stakes accounting for more than a third (36%) of all serious eye injuries, but also flying high on the dangerous firework list is the innocent sparkler. Although sparklers are often thought to be one of the safest fireworks, they burn at temperatures up to 2000ºC – hot enough to melt gold.

Follow Eye Health UK’s SPARKLER code for a safe and injury free Bonfire Night:

Shield your eyes with protective eyewear when lighting fireworks

Plunge sparklers into a bucket of cold water as soon as they have burnt out

Attend organised displays wherever possible

Read the instructions on the fireworks with a torch and follow them carefully (ensure your fireworks comply with the British Safety Standard (BS 7114)

Keep all fireworks in a closed metal box and only light one at a time

Leave fireworks that fail to go off – never return to a lit firework

Ensure everyone stands a safe distance away – AT LEAST 25 metres from Category 3 fireworks

Remove all debris and flammable objects (including plants and trees) from your firework display area

David Cartwright, Chairman of the charity Eye Health UK says: “Eye damage caused by fireworks is so often avoidable and can lead to permanently reduced vision or even blindness, so this year the charity is urging people to take extra care of their eyes and follow the SPARKLER safety code.”

If anyone in your party does suffer a firework eye injury:
• Seek medical attention immediately. Quick action can minimise long-term damage.
• Do not rub or rinse the injured eye, or apply any ointments to the eye area. If you do, it could increase any damage and make it more difficult for a specialist to provide treatment.


Vision and Eye Health Supplement published in The Guardian

Take a look at the Vision and Eye Health supplement published in today's Guardian newspaper for news and information about caring for your eyes.

Read it again here


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24 September 2019

Call for opticians to offer lifestyle prescriptions

Eye Health UK[1] is calling on opticians to include lifestyle advice on their optical prescriptions in a bid to cut the number of people in the UK living with avoidable sight loss.

The appeal, which coincides with the launch of National Eye Health Week (23 – 29 September), has already received backing from the UK’s biggest opticial group and independent practitioners.

David Cartwright Chairman of Eye Health UK, said:

“A million people in the UK are living with avoidable sight loss severe enough to make everyday activities like driving a car impossible. Your lifestyle can have a serious impact on your eye health regardless of your genetic predisposition and is linked to all four major causes of sight loss: macular degeneration, the UK’s leading cause of blindness, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts, yet people are unaware that there is an association.”

Reaching out to people with lifestyle advice that encourages them to make simple changes to their diet, smoking habits and activity levels will play a critical role in saving people’s sight in the future.”

Optometrists are perfectly placed to deliver general health advice and support the Government’s mission to ‘put prevention at the heart of the nation's health’[2]. Public trust in advice given by opticians is high. Eighty-eight per cent of UK Adults say they trust health advice from opticians  either a ‘great or ‘fair’ deal[3].

According to new research just 15 per cent of Brits think your exercise regime can affect eye health[4], despite evidence that being physically active can reduce your risk of visual impairment by 58 per cent versus somebody with a sedentary lifestyle[5] .

Whilst research published in the British Medical Journal reveals as many as one in five cases of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the UK’s leading cause of blindness, are caused by tobacco consumption[6], making smoking directly responsible for around 120,000 cases of AMD in Britain today[7].

Lifestyle advice on optical prescriptions and eye examination summaries would not only increase public awareness of the link between lifestyle habits and eye health but also signpost people towards the support they need to make lifestyle changes and improve their general well-being[8].

Commenting on why they are giving the initiative their backing:

Giles Edmonds, Clinical Services Director at Specsavers said: “Sight is the sense people fear losing the most, so whatever we can do to help our customers maintain the health of their eyes and see better for longer is always our priority.”

Tushar  Majithia from Lunettes Opticians which has practices in Sleaford, Grantham and Ruskington said: “We usually provide eye health advice as part of the eye examination but patients often don’t remember all the information given to them. It is important to reinforce the message by including this information on the optical prescription, as well as providing information leaflets.”


The charity hopes that the lifestyle prescription initiative can be rolled out in optical practices over the next 12 months.


[1] Eye Health UK is a register charity [registered charity number 1086146]
[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prevention-is-better-than-cure-our-vision-to-help-you-live-well-for-longer
[3] https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/sites/default/files/gphc_public_perceptions_report_-_final.pdf
[4] Eye Health study conducted by OnePoll amongst 2,000 UK adults, August 2019
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047137/
[6] British Medical Journal, Vol. 328, S. 537
[7] Calculated using Macular Society AMD prevalence data 
[8] Illustration of what advice might look like on a prescription “Smoking causes sight loss. It significantly increases your risk of common eye diseases and impairs colour vision. For help to quit visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree.”


Published: 23 September

Daily Themes for NEHW19 Announced

Organisers have announced the daily themes for this year's National Eye Health Week.

Monday 23 September Importance of regular eye examinations

Tuesday  24th September Nutrition and the eye

Wednesday 25th September Sight after Sixty with a focus on the role good vision plays in falls prevention

Thursday 26th September Diabetic Retinopathy

Fr-eye-day 27th September The Big Blink (screen fatigue) plus charity fundraising

Saturday 28th September Kids’ eye care (including myopia control)

Sunday 29th September Smoking and sight loss


Social media graphics will be posted in the electronic resource centre every day to help supporters share important eye health messages relating to the daily themes.


Published: 8 September 2019

Should Sunglasses be Higher on the School Agenda?

UK parents are concerned about the dangers of UV. A recent poll of 1,000 mums and dads with children aged 4-12 showed that over half (54%) wanted sunglasses to become an official part of the school uniform.

NICE guidance[1] recommends schools adopt a Sun Safety Policy and share advice on UV protection with parents, but new research shows two fifths of parents (40%) questioned within the poll have no idea whether their child’s school even has such a policy.

Around a quarter of those parents (23%) even claim their child’s school does not allow them to wear sunglasses on school grounds.

There is still unawareness among parents, with nearly one in five (17%) of the 1,000 parents questioned claiming they don’t think it’s ever sunny enough to warrant sunglasses in the UK.

Even when the sun isn’t shining, UV rays are still present and doing damage, which is why children’s sunglasses brand monkey monkey is raising awareness of the importance of protecting children’s eyes, as well as their skin, all year round.

The charity Eye Health UK warns even with all the sun protection kids already use, without sunglasses kids’ eyes are still at risk.

Eye protection from the sun can be achieved with sunglasses that are wraparound lenses or wide arms (to provide side protection) that have the CE Mark (an indication that they meet the relevant European Standard[2]).

To mark National Sunglasses Day on Thursday 27th June, monkey monkey and Eye Health UK are encouraging parents and schools to become more aware of the risks the sun poses to young eyes.




  1. Protect your eyes whenever the UV Index rises to three or more. Visit the Met Office or BBC Weather websites for information on UV levels.


  1. Make sure your eyes and the area around your eyes is fully covered. Large lenses and wrap-around styles provide the greatest protection.


  1. Wear sunglasses with a CE; UV 400 or British Standard Mark as this ensures they provide adequate UV protection.


  1. Never wear toy sunglasses. These offer little UV protection and can actually cause more damage because the tinted lenses dilate the pupil allowing more UV to enter the eye.


  1. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, check your lenses provide UV protection.


  1. Wear a hat, cap or visor for added protection.


  1. Sit or play in the shade.


  1. Stay out of the sun between 12pm and 3pm when the sun’s rays are strongest. Up to 50% of the total daily UV is emitted between these times!


  1. Never look directly at the sun.


  1. Remember the shadow rule... If your shadow is taller than you are your eyes are at greatest risk from UV exposure as your brow bone no longer offers natural protection.


[1] https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng34/chapter/implementation#implementation

[2] https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng34/chapter/implementation#implementation


*Research of 1,000 UK parents with children aged 4-12 conducted by OnePoll in June 2019.


Published  : 27 June 2019

The Story of NEHW 2018

Click on the Seven Days to Focus on Eye Health cover below for highlights of the 2018 National Eye Health Week campaign.

cover of the 2018 NEHW report


Published:  23 March 2019

Say #EyeQuit for National No Smoking Day 13 March 2019

Did you know the link between smoking and sight loss is as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer? To encourage people to say #EyeQuit for National No Smoking Day (13 March 2019) we're highlighting twenty ways smoking can affect your vision and eye health.


#1 Tobacco smoke causes biological changes in your eyes that can lead to vision loss

#2 Cigarettes contain toxins that enter your eyes & increase your risk of sight loss by up to four times

#3 Tobacco chemicals damage blood vessels inside your eyes

#4 Tobacco chemicals interfere with the production of your tears

#5 Smoking causes oxidative stress and damages your retina

#6 Tobacco reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches your macula

#7 Smoking is a key risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the UK’s leading cause of blindness

#8 Research published in @bmj suggests 1 in 5 cases of AMD are caused by tobacco consumption

#9 On average smokers develop AMD 5 years earlier than non-smokers

#10 Smoking is a major risk factor in the development of cataracts

#11 The risk of nuclear cataracts is 3 times greater in smokers

#12 Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing diabetic retinopathy

#13 Smoking increases your risk of dry eye syndrome – the leading cause of eye irritation in over 65s

#14 Smoking is associated with the development of thyroid eye disease

#15 Smokers have increased prevalence of colour vision deficiency

#16 Nicotine poisoning can make it difficult to clearly distinguish colours with a red or green hue

#17 Smokers are twice as likely to suffer Uveitis than non-smokers.

#18 Smoking increases the risk of contact lens wearers suffering corneal ulcers 

#19 Smoking in pregnancy increases the risk of your child having a squint 

#20 Smoking around loved ones increases their risk of suffering sight loss


Get your free Personal Quit Plan at nhs.uk/smokefree to help you stop smoking for good.


Will you say #EyeQuit?

National Eye Health Week debate in Scottish Parliament


Stuart McMillan MSP led a National Eye Health Week debate in Scottish Parliament on 25.09.18

You can listen again to the whole debate here


Published 26 September 2018

New health map highlights areas of the UK at greatest risk of sight loss

A new map produced by Eye Health UK, the charity responsible for running National Eye Health Week (24 – 30 September), highlights areas of UK – including Barking and Dagenham, Reading, Swansea, Nottingham and Newcastle ­– where poor lifestyle habits and inadequate health screening are putting residents at serious risk of sight loss.

Eye Health Map 2018

There are a million people in the UK currently living with ‘avoidable’ sight loss – leaving them unable to do things such as drive. Forecasters predict this figure could rise by a third by 2030, if action isn’t taken now[1].

Prevention and early diagnosis of common eye conditions are key to reducing the number of people suffering sight loss unnecessarily” explains David Cartwright Chairman of Eye Health UK “however, in towns and cities like Bristol, Liverpool, Luton and Manchester we are seeing a worrying number of people failing to take up their entitlement to free NHS sight tests and displaying high levels of smoking and obesity – two lifestyle factors linked to sight loss.”

Lifestyle habits impact your eye health regardless of your genetic predisposition.[2] Being physically active has been shown to reduce your risk of visual impairment by 58 per cent versus somebody with a sedentary lifestyle[3]; whilst a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30+ has been linked to the four most common causes of sight loss: macular disease, glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy. [4]

Research published in the British Medical Journal reveals as many as one in five cases of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the UK’s leading cause of blindness, are caused by tobacco consumption.[5] Making smoking directly responsible for around 120,000 cases of AMD in Britain today.[6]

Poor uptake of regular eye tests is another big risk to the nation’s eye health. Almost 14 million (13.8) of us fail to have our eyes checked once every two years, as recommended, and one in 10 of us have never had our eyes checked.[7]

Cathy Yelf, CEO of the Macular Society said: “Age-related macular degeneration is the biggest cause of blindness in the UK, affecting 600,000 people. By 2050 this number is expected to double. It is an urgent public health issue. Regular eye tests can detect Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) early, which is crucial in preserving vision and the quality of life of patients.”

“If you are told you have early AMD, there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of the disease progressing.” says Yelf. “If you smoke, stop. Smokers are four times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers. Smoking kills the cells of the retina, reduces the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the eye and damages blood vessels. Smoking causes AMD to progress faster and makes treatment less effective.

“Take moderate exercise to maintain a healthy weight and normal blood pressure and eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, especially green, leafy vegetables. These contain nutrients that are thought to be important to eye health.”

The introduction NHS funded eye tests for everyone in Scotland in April 2006 has helped reduce the risk of avoidable sight loss north of the border where uptake of eye tests has risen by around 30 per cent over the last decade. However, health inequalities still exist here with high prevalence of poor lifestyle habits linked to poor eye health.


Towns and cities of the UK with the highest risk of avoidable sight loss due to low uptake of eye tests and high prevalence of poor lifestyle

Barking and Dagenham





Brighton and Hove








Derry and Strabane


Ealing Eastbourne














Isle of Wight











Newcastle upon Tyne


North Tyneside
















South Bucks

South Tyneside



St Helens








Tower Hamlets

Waltham Forest

Weymouth and Portland





[1] State of the Nation’s Eyes report 2017 [http://rnib.org.uk/state-nation-2017]

[2] Kristin J. Myers et al. Ophthalmology Journal Vol 122

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047137/

[4] The body mass index (BMI) is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy. The BMI calculation divides an adult's weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared.

[5] British Medical Journal, Vol. 328, S. 537

[6] Calculated using Macular Society AMD prevalence data

[7] Generation Eye Report, Eye Health UK sponsored by Specsavers


* This map was created for Eye Health UK by Experian. It correlates key factors (eye test uptake, smoking, exercise, obesity, healthy eating and alcohol consumption) associated with avoidable sight loss. Factors were weighted as follows: eye test uptake (50%); lifestyle behaviours (50%) (smoking - 20%, exercise - 20%, obesity - 20% healthy eating - 20% and alcohol consumption – 20%). Data sources include lifestyle variables from the Experian’s Mosaic geo-demograhic segmentation tool, Health and Social Care Information Centre statistics; Information Services Division, NHS Scotland data; NHS ophthalmic statistics from Welsh Govt plus Health and Social Care Northern Ireland data. For a full list of citations contact rachel@visionmatters.org.uk


Published : 24 September 2018

Eye Health Supplement published with The Sunday Times 23.09.18

Front page of Sunday Times Eye Health Supplement

The National Eye Health Week supplement published in The Sunday Times today (23 September) takes a look at the state of the nation's eye health and explains why eye health can not be ignored. Read it again here


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Published : 23 September 2018